Are You Playing Games with Your Customers? Part 2 of the Series on Gamification in Banking

gamificiation in bankingSo, the sequel to how the nascent trend of gamification is raising its head amidst various user engagement innovations is back. While the focus in my last post was to create an appreciation of the potential of gamification in banking services, the second and final post will focus on highlighting some of the early adopters in the space along with a novel perspective for internal processes.

What do Banks have up their Sleeve?

If you're a bank CIO or CMO, clearly the easiest way to get your organization into gamification would be to start with the customer. Many banks have recently started to look at imbibing some of the core principles of gamification into customer service. BBVA introduced its customers to gamification last year through its BBVA Game - an incentive platform to promote BBVA's web services. Its unique points collection system lets users collect points as they do web operations on BBVA's online platform in addition to watching its product videos and demos. Users are required to create a profile with a nickname, make financial transactions online, watch web videos, answer questions based on the videos and collect winning points. At the end of each stage, users are rewarded with achievement points and prizes. You might be wondering what the results are - BBVA says they've registered 75,000 new users on the game platform and the website's overall satisfaction amongst the game users has been a very strong 4.14 out 5.

Similarly, CIMB Bank (Malaysia) announced a unique initiative in 2011 to target the unbanked segment of users aged 12-23 through its CIMB YOUth program. The bank leverages Facebook to acquire new customer accounts through a series of credit schemes called "FUNds". Find Facebook very addictive? If you're looking for different blue-print strategies on gamification of banking services, you can also check out gamification initiatives such as saveUp, PNC Bank's Punch the Pig, DBS Bank's Foursquare-based check-ins, Barclays' 56 Sage Street, etc.

Time to Spin the Gamification Bottle 180-degrees
There's an even more interesting angle to gamification which most banks have failed to latch on to - internal customers a.k.a. the bank's employees. If you think fancy avatars and rewards can do wonders for your customers instead of those dull black and white spreadsheets, imagine the potential of gamification for your employees.

Confused? Let me try and elaborate. Now we're all guilty of occasionally slipping in a couple of sessions of Angry Birds during our work hours, aren't we? How many times have you found out your employees busy playing with their smartphone, heads buried in - all this during work hours. Just as bank customers show deeper engagement in a bank's offerings through skilful implementation of gamified processes, the same could hold true for its employees too. Gamification.org propounds an interesting theory of how employees tend to perceive various tasks at work through the lens of gamification.gamification perception


(Source: http://www.gamification.org/wiki/Gamification_of_Work)

Gartner predicts that by 2015, more than 50% of organizations that manage innovation processes will gamify those processes. Further, they predict that 70% of Global 2000 enterprises will be using gamification to manage at least one application or process. Now you may ask - all this is great, but how do I connect this to my bank employees?

Employee Training Emerges as a Gamification Trailblazer

For starters, employee training is fast emerging as a top focus area for gamification in the financial services industry. According to the CIO magazine, banks face huge fines from financial regulatory bodies when it comes to the lack of proper and effective compliance trainings for their employees. A large global bank has been at the receiving end of this issue in recent times - after being awarded a billion-dollar fine on the count of failure to implement AML controls and thereby violating global sanctions. What's more, besides the huge dent in their global brand, the bank's 2012 net profit fell double-digit due to the fine charges. Talk about stakes!!!

Banks are seeking services from gamification process consultants to transform their existing training programs into engaging learning with the aid of real-time analytical frameworks, user-friendly UI and training narratives based on real-life compliance challenges typically faced by bank employees.

Guess what - the story is similar in other industry verticals too. US-based global package delivery vendor UPS trains its new drivers using video games. The Hilton Garden Inn collaborates with Virtual Heroes to train its new employees to run a hotel. The US National Institute of Justice (under the US Department of Justice) has developed a training program game called the Incident Commander to prepare itself for disaster management.

So Where do you Start - Gamification Market Entry Strategies

For ages now, banks have been guilty of treating their customers with the 'one-size-fits-all' mantra. Banks ought to look at this opportunity a bit differently and understand that each customer is different. Rolling out the right set of services to the right segment is as important in today's times as having those services in the first place. Then again, the thing with new technologies / trends is no customer really cares how they work as long as they perform a task better than the current technologies.

Often at the precipice of new trend adoption is the 18-30 years demographic of customers. This segment already considers banking services as cumbersome and no one wants to get involved unless they have to. At the same time, show them something that adds value on top of existing services, and banks could increase the customer stickiness radically. Another huge demographic popping up on the scene is the mobility crowd - smartphone / iPod Touch / PlayStation Portable users. Since most mobility users tend to spend more time on their devices rather than PCs / TVs, consider developing a customer targeting strategy that leverages the modern mobile platforms. How about targeting early teens who are looking to save for their college funds? A co-branding marketing plan with popular local social networks could unravel invaluable customer data.

It is easy to see how the gamification has huge ramifications for a bank's customers and employees in equal parts. While most banks are still grappling with the issues of mobility, Web 2.0, etc., the CXOs of aspirational banks of the future need to start paying closer attention to the massive iceberg, which rests beneath the proverbial tip. Game on!!!


Tushar Chitra is the Senior Director for Product Marketing at Oracle Financial Services. He can be reached at Tushar.chitra AT oracle.com.



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